Bush horse racing

The All Right ‘Un by Banjo Paterson

Mateship in the Face of Adversity – Analyzing ‘The All Right ‘Un’ by Banjo Paterson

Banjo Paterson’s lighthearted ballad ‘The All Right ‘Un’ explores themes of loyalty and mateship through the story of two horseracing tricksters. Though their endeavors ultimately fail, Paterson suggests there are worthwhile qualities to appreciate in the pair’s relationship.

The poem establishes the backstory economically, introducing Billy, who has gone to the outback to recover from illness, and is now returning home. The Australian vernacular gives a strong voice and personality to our narrator who has received a friendly letter from Billy announcing his imminent return.

The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses by Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson - Book Cover

The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses

by Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson

Billy re-establishes their rapport, promising the narrator insider knowledge of an unbeatable racehorse, Strife. The audacious plan to fix races by running ‘on the crook’ highlights Billy’s spirited, roguish nature.

Paterson employs the suspense of the unknown racehorse’s first start to build excitement and anticipation. However, he punctures this in the hilarious anti-climax of the next stanza – Billy and Strife have already been “disqualified for life”.

Yet the narrator’s loyalty remains unfazed. Though admitting Billy “wasn’t straight,” he appreciates his friend’s good intentions to include him in the scheme. Paterson suggests a true mate sticks steadfastly alongside, regardless of another’s faults or failures.

Written with wit and warmth, ‘The All Right ‘Un’ celebrates the Australian egalitarian spirit. Though Billy’s methods were unsound, the narrator recognizes shared experiences and camaraderie can be more important than success. Paterson evokes the essence of mateship – standing by your friends through thick and thin.

The All Right ‘Un

He came from `further out’,
That land of heat and drought
And dust and gravel.
He got a touch of sun,
And rested at the run
Until his cure was done,
And he could travel.

When spring had decked the plain,
He flitted off again
As flit the swallows.
And from that western land,
When many months were spanned,
A letter came to hand,
Which read as follows:

`Dear sir, I take my pen
In hopes that all your men
And you are hearty.
You think that I’ve forgot
Your kindness, Mr. Scott,
Oh, no, dear sir, I’m not
That sort of party.

You sometimes bet, I know, Well, now you’ll have a show Thebooks’ to frighten.
Up here at Wingadee
Young Billy Fife and me
We’re training Strife, and he
Is a all right ‘un.

Just now we’re running byes, But, sir, first time he tries I’ll send you word of. And runningon the crook’
Their measures we have took,
It is the deadest hook
You ever heard of.

`So when we lets him go,
Why, then, I’ll let you know,
And you can have a show
To put a mite on.
Now, sir, my leave I’ll take,
Yours truly, William Blake.
P.S. — Make no mistake,

 .    .    .    .    .

By next week’s RIVERINE
I saw my friend had been
A bit too cunning.
I read: `The racehorse Strife
And jockey William Fife
Disqualified for life —
Suspicious running.’

But though they spoilt his game,
I reckon all the same
I fairly ought to claim
My friend a white ‘un.
For though he wasn’t straight,
His deeds would indicate
His heart at any rate
Was `a all right ‘un’.

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